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No Firefox web browser for iPhone or iPad unless Apple relaxes its rules

No Firefox web browser for iPhone or iPad unless Apple relaxes its rules

Mozilla has no plans to bring its Firefox browser to the iPhone or iPad in the future and it is putting the blame firmly at Apple’s door. Mozilla vice president Jay Sullivan was speaking at the mobile browser wars panel at SXSW Interactive. According to CNET:

The sticking point for Mozilla is not being able to carry over its sophisticated rendering and javascript engines to iOS. Essentially, the organization doesn##Q##t feel like it can build the browser it wants to for Apple##Q##s platform, Sullivan told CNET.

Of course this should come as no great surprise to iOS users; the browser debate has been rumbling on for a long time. The App Store already offers a lot of different web browsers which include the likes of Google ChromeDolphin Browser and more.

The fact that none of these alternative browsers can be set as the default browser is hindering enough. When you also factor in the lack of access to the Safari exclusive Nitro JavaScript engine; which considerably speeds up the browsing experience, you can see why it is not an attractive platform for third party browsers.

Nitro gets its speed by using a just-in-time compiler that can execute code faster, but at the expense of security. Given the amount of security exploits that target web content, Apple only uses it in aspects of iOS it can be completely responsible for securing, namely Safari and in (web apps clipped to the Home screen). Third party apps are restricted to UIWebView, which uses the older, more secure yet slower JavaScript engine. That means all alternate browsers can really offer are different interfaces and add-on services, like Chrome does with tabs and sync.

Now that Mozilla is making their own mobile operating system, however, perhaps they can lead by example and show how alternate browsers can run with their own HTML and JavaScript engines, unrestricted, and in a completely secure manner.